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RULE §25.142Submetering for Apartments, Condominiums, and Mobile Home Parks

(a) Purpose. This section implements Texas Utilities Code §184.014.

(b) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

  (1) Apartment house--One or more buildings containing more than five dwelling units, each of which is rented primarily for non-transient use with rent paid at intervals of one week or longer. The term includes a rented or owner-occupied residential condominium.

  (2) Dwelling unit--One or more rooms suitable for occupancy as a residence and that contain kitchen and bathroom facilities, or a mobile home in a mobile home park.

  (3) Master meter--A meter used to measure, for billing purposes, all electric usage of an apartment house or mobile home park, including common areas, common facilities, and dwelling units.

  (4) Month or monthly--The period between any two consecutive meter readings by the utility, either actual or estimated, at approximately 30-day intervals.

  (5) Owner--Any owner, operator, or manager of any apartment house or mobile home park engaged in electric submetering.

  (6) Electric submetering--Individual dwelling unit metering of electric service performed by the owner.

(c) Records and reports.

  (1) The owner shall maintain and make available for inspection by the tenant the following records:

    (A) the billing from the utility or retail electric provider to the apartment owner for the current month and the 12 preceding months;

    (B) the calculation of the average cost per billing unit, i.e., kilowatt-hour for the current month and the 12 preceding months;

    (C) all submeter readings and tenant billings for the current month and the 12 preceding months;

    (D) all submeter test results for the current month and the 12 preceding months.

  (2) Records shall be made available at the resident manager's office during reasonable business hours or, if there is no resident manager, at the dwelling unit of the tenant at the convenience of both the apartment owner and tenant.

  (3) All records shall be made available to the commission upon request.

(d) Billing. All rental agreements between the owner and the tenants shall clearly state that the dwelling unit is submetered, that the bills will be issued thereon, that electrical consumption charges for all common areas and common facilities will be the responsibility of the owner and not of the tenant, and that any disputes relating to the computation of the tenant's bill and the accuracy of the submetering device will be between the tenant and the owner. Each owner shall provide a tenant, at the time the lease is signed, a copy of this section or a narrative summary as approved by the commission to assure that the tenant is informed of his rights and the owner's responsibilities under this section.

  (1) Rendering and form of bill.

    (A) Bills shall be rendered for the same billing period as that of the electric utility, generally monthly, unless service is rendered for less than that period. Bills shall be rendered as promptly as possible following the reading of the submeters. The submeters shall be read within three days of the scheduled reading date of the electric utility's master meter.

    (B) The billing unit shall be that used by the electric utility in its billing to the owner.

    (C) The owner shall be responsible for determining that the energy billed to any dwelling unit shall be only for that submetered and consumed within that unit.

    (D) Submetered billings shall not be included as part of the rental payment or as part of billings for any other service to the tenant. A separate billing must be issued or, if issued on a multi-item bill, submetered billing information must be separate and distinct from any other charges on the bill and conform to information required in subparagraph (H) of this paragraph. The submetered bill must clearly state "submetered electricity."

    (E) The bill shall reflect only submetered usage. Utility consumption at all common facilities will be the responsibility of the owner and not of the tenant. Allocation of central systems for air conditioning, heating and hot water is not prohibited by this section as set forth in §25.141 of this title (relating to Central System or Non-submetered Master Metered Utilities).

    (F) The owner shall not impose any extra charges on the tenant over and above those charges which are billed by the retail electric provider or utility to the owner. The bill may not include a deposit, late penalty, reconnect charge, or any other charges unless otherwise provided for by these sections.

      (i) A one-time penalty not to exceed 5.0% may be made on delinquent accounts. If the penalty is applied, the bill shall indicate the amount due if paid by the due date and the amount due if the late penalty is incurred. No late penalty may be applied unless agreed to by the tenant in a written lease which states the exact dollar or percentage amount of the late penalty.

      (ii) In a mobile home park a reconnect fee may be applied for a mobile home not leased by the mobile home park owner if service to the pad site tenant is disconnected for non-payment of submetered bills in accordance with subsection (e)(1) of this section. Such reconnect fee shall be calculated based on the average actual cost to the owner for the expenses associated with the reconnection, but under no circumstances shall exceed $10. No reconnect charge may be applied unless agreed to by the tenant in a written lease which states the exact dollar amount of such reconnect charge.

    (G) The tenant's submeter bills shall be calculated in the following manner: after the electric bill is received from the utility or retail electric provider, the owner shall divide the net total charges for electrical consumption, plus applicable tax, by the total number of kilowatt-hours to obtain an average cost per kilowatt-hour. The average kilowatt-hour cost shall then be multiplied by each tenant's kilowatt-hour consumption to obtain the charge to the tenant. The computation of the average cost per kilowatt-hour shall not include any penalties charged by the utility or the retail electric provider to the owner for disconnect, reconnect, late payment, or other similar service charges.

    (H) The tenant's electric submeter bill shall show all of the following information:

      (i) the date and reading of the submeter at the beginning and at the end of the period for which the bill is rendered;

      (ii) the number of billing units metered;

      (iii) the computed rate per billing unit;

      (iv) the total amount due for electricity used;

      (v) a clear and unambiguous statement that the bill is not from the utility or retail electric provider, which shall be named in the statement;

      (vi) the name and address of the tenant to whom the bill is applicable;

      (vii) the name of the firm rendering the submetering bill and the name or title, address, and telephone number of the person or persons to be contacted in case of a billing dispute;

      (viii) the date by which the tenant must pay the bill; and

      (ix) the name, address, and telephone number of the party to whom payment is to be made.

  (2) Due date. The due date of the bill shall not be less than seven days after issuance. A bill for submetered service is delinquent if not received by the party indicated on the bill by the due date. The postmark date, if any, on the envelope of the bill or on the bill itself shall constitute proof of the date of issuance. An issuance date on the bill shall constitute proof of the date of issuance if there is no postmark on the envelope or bill. If the due date falls on a holiday or weekend, the due date for payment purposes shall be the next work day after the due date.

  (3) Disputed bills. In the event of a dispute between the tenant and the owner regarding any bill, the owner shall promptly make an investigation as shall be required by the particular case, and report the results to the tenant. The investigation and report shall be completed within 30 days from the date the tenant notified the owner of the dispute.

  (4) Tenant access to records. The tenants of any dwelling unit whose electrical consumption is submetered shall be allowed by the owner to review and copy the master billing for the current month's billing period and for the 12 preceding months, and all submeter readings of the entire apartment house or mobile home park for the current month and for the 12 preceding months.

  (5) Estimated bills. Estimated bills shall not be rendered unless the meter has been tampered with or is out of order, and shall be distinctly marked "estimated bill".

  (6) Overbilling and underbilling. If submetered billings are found to be in error, the owner shall calculate a billing adjustment. If the tenant is due a refund, an adjustment shall be made for the entire period of the overcharges. If the tenant was undercharged, the owner may backbill the tenant for the amount which was underbilled. The backbilling is not to exceed six months unless the owner can produce records to identify and justify the additional amount of backbilling. If the underbilling is $50 or more, the owner shall offer to the tenant a deferred payment plan option, for the same length of time as that of the underbilling. However, in a mobile home park, the mobile home park owner may not disconnect electric service to a mobile home not leased by the mobile home park owner if the pad site tenant fails to pay charges arising from an underbilling more than six months prior to the date the tenant was initially notified of the amount of the undercharges and the total additional amount due. Furthermore, adjustments for usage by a previous tenant may not be backbilled to the current tenant.

  (7) Level and average payment plans. An owner may offer a level payment plan or average payment plan consistent with this paragraph.

    (A) The payment plan may be one of the following methods:

      (i) A level payment plan allowing eligible tenants to pay on a monthly basis a fixed billing rate of one-twelfth of that tenant's estimated annual consumption at the appropriate rates, with provisions for quarterly adjustments as may be determined based on actual usage.

      (ii) An average payment plan allowing tenants to pay on a monthly basis one-twelfth of the sum of that tenant's current month's consumption plus the previous 11 month's consumption (or an estimate thereof, for a new customer) at the appropriate customer class rates, plus a portion of any unbilled balance. Provisions for annual adjustments as may be determined based on actual usage shall be provided. If at the end of a year the owner determines that he has collected an amount different than he has been charged by the utility or retail electric provider, the owner must refund any overcollection and may surcharge any undercollection over the next year.

    (B) Under either of the plans outlined in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph the owner is prohibited from charging the tenant any interest that may accrue. Any seasonal overcharges or undercharges will be carried by the owner of the complex.

    (C) A mobile home park owner may disconnect service to a mobile home not leased by the mobile home park owner, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, if the pad site tenant does not fulfill the terms of a level payment plan or an average payment plan.

    (D) The owner may collect a deposit from all tenants entering into level payment plans or average payment plans; the deposit will not exceed an amount equivalent to one-sixth of the estimated annual billing. Notwithstanding any other provision in these sections, the owner may retain said deposit for the duration of the level or average payment plan; however, the owner shall pay interest on the deposit as is provided in §25.24 of this title (relating to Credit Requirements and Deposits).

(e) Discontinuance of electric service.

  (1) Application. This subsection applies only to mobile homes in a mobile home park that are not leased by the mobile home park owner. Disconnection of any other dwelling unit by the owner is governed by Texas Property Code §92.008(b).

  (2) Disconnection for delinquent bills.

    (A) Electric service may be disconnected only for nonpayment of electric bills. A pad site tenant's electric service may be disconnected if a bill has not been paid within 12 days from the date of issuance and proper notice has been given. Proper notice shall consist of a separate mailing or hand delivery at least five days prior to a stated date of disconnection, with the words "termination notice" or similar language prominently displayed on the notice. The notice shall include the office or street address where a tenant can go during normal working hours to make arrangements for payment of the bill and for reconnection of service.

    (B) Under these provisions, a pad site tenant's electric service may be discontinued only for nonpayment of electric service.

  (3) Disconnection on holidays or weekends. Unless a dangerous condition exists, or unless the pad site tenant requests disconnection, electric service shall not be disconnected on a day, or on a day immediately preceding a day, when personnel of the mobile home park are not available for the purpose of making collections and reconnecting electric service.


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